Monday, April 28, 2008

The Declaration of Utrecht

On Saturday, some friends and I attended Mass at Spirit of Hope Catholic Community, a newly formed parish within the Old Catholic Church diocese (or jurisdiction) known as the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Community (ACOC). The pastor of Spirit of Hope is Fr. Marty Shanahan, a former Roman Catholic deacon. The head of the ACOC is Bishop Diana Dale, who is based in Houston, TX.

Regular visitors to The Wild Reed may recall that last year I published an extensive interview with Rev. Robert Caruso of Cornerstone Catholic Community in St. Paul, MN, which is part of the Heartland Old Catholic Diocese. In this interview Rev. Caruso discusses the history of Old Catholicism, its points of similarity and difference to Roman Catholicism, and its affirming and accepting stance on women and gay people in all areas of church life. As Fr. Marty Shanahan reminded folks on Saturday night, Old Catholicism is a way of being Catholic that doesn’t exclude anybody.

The biggest difference between Old Catholicism and Roman Catholicism is governance. In Old Catholicism, it is the people, not the bishops, who are the primary discerners of how the faith is to be most authentically lived out. Put another way, leadership in the Old Catholic Church is local, open to democratic processes, and shared by the bishop in council with the clergy and laity. The Bishop of Rome (the pope) is honored as first among equals of the world’s bishops, but not accorded universal jurisdiction. Papal Infallibility (meaning the pope is ascribed personal infallibility when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals) is rejected in favor of the scriptural idea of indefectibility – meaning when the Church speaks in Ecumenical Council, it does so without defect from the truth.

A foundational document of the Old Catholic tradition is the Declaration of Utrecht of 1889, a document written in response to the First Vatican Council’s dogma of Papal Infallibility. Of course, the Old Catholic tradition traces its roots back further than the late 1800s. Via the See of Utrecht (i.e., the ancient Catholic Church of the Netherlands founded by St. Willibrord in the seventh century and which traditionally oversaw the expansion of the Catholic faith into northern Europe), Old Catholicism traces its roots back to the early and unified Catholic Church of 1 – 451 C.E.

I hope to write more about Old Catholicism in future Wild Reed posts. Today, however, I’ll simply share a translation of the Declaration (or Profession of Faith) of Utrecht, as in future posts I’ll no doubt make references to this important document.


The Declaration of Utrecht
A translation of the Profession of Faith, or Declaration,
formulated by the Old Catholic Bishops assembled
at Utrecht – September 24, 1889.

1. We adhere faithfully to the Rule of Faith laid down by St. Vincent of Lerins in these terms: “Id teneamus, ubique quod simper, quod ab omnibus creditum est; hoc est etenim vere pro- prieque catholicum.” For this reason we persevere in professing the faith of the primitive [early and unified] Church, as formulated in the ecumenical symbols and specified precisely by the unanimously accepted decisions of the Ecumenical Councils held in the undivided Church of the first thousand years.

2. We therefore reject the decrees of the so-called Council of the Vatican, which were promulgated on July 18, 1870 concerning the infallibility and the universal Episcopate of the Bishop of Rome, decrees which contradict the faith of the ancient canonical constitution by attributing to the Pope the plenitude of ecclesiastical powers over all Dioceses and over all the faithful. By denial of his primatial jurisdiction, we do not wish to deny the historic primacy which several Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers of the ancient Church have attributed to the Bishop of Rome by recognizing him as the Primus inter pares [First among equals].

3. We reject the dogma of the Immaculate Conception promulgated by Pius IX in 1854 in defiance of the Holy Scriptures and the contradiction to the tradition of the first centuries.

4. As for other Encyclicals published by the Bishops of Rome in recent times; for example, the Bulls Unigenitus and Auctorem fidei, and the Syllabus of 1864, we reject them on all such points as are in the contradiction of the doctrine of the primitive Church, and we do not recognize them as binding on the conscience of the faithful. We also renew the ancient protest of the Catholic Church of Holland against the errors of Roman Curia, and against its attacks upon the rights of national Churchs.

5. We refuse to accept the decrees of the Council of Trent in matters of discipline, and as for the dogmatic decisions of that Council, accept them only as far as they are in harmony with the teaching of the primitive Church.

6. Considering that the Holy Eucharist has always been the true central point of Catholic worship, we consider it our duty to declare that we maintain with perfect fidelity the ancient Catholic doctrine concerning the Sacrament of the Altar, by believing that we receive the Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ under the species of bread and wine. The Eucharistic celebration in the church is neither a continual repetition nor a renewal of the expiatory sacrifice which Jesus offered once for all upon the Cross, and it is the act by which we represent upon earth and appropriate to ourselves the one offering which Jesus Christ makes in Heaven, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews ix. 11, 12 for the salvation of redeemed humanity, by appearing for us in the presence of God (Heb. Ix. 24). The character of the Holy Eucharist being thus understood, it is, at the same time, a sacrificial feast, by means of which the faithful, in receiving the Body and Blood of our Savior, enter into communion with one another (I Cor. X. 17).

7. We hope that Catholic theologians, in maintaining the faith of the undivided Church, will succeed in establishing an agreement upon all such questions as caused controversy ever since the Churches became divided. We exhort the priests under our jurisdiction to teach, both by preaching and by instruction of the young, especially the essential Christian truths professed by all Christian confessions, to avoid, in discussing controversial doctrines, any violation of truth or charity, and in word and deed to set an example to the members of our churches in accordance with the spirit of Jesus Christ our Savior.

8. By maintaining and professing faithfully the doctrine of Jesus Christ, by refusing to admit those errors which by the fault of men have crept into the Catholic Churches, by laying aside the abuses in ecclesiastical matters, together with the worldly tendencies of hierarchy, we believe that we shall be able to combat efficaciously the great evils of our day, which are unbelief and indifference in matters of religion.

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
The Old Catholic Church: Catholicism Beyond Rome
(my September 2007 interview with Rev. Robert Caruso of Cornerstone Old Catholic Church, St. Paul, MN).
Casanova-inspired Reflections on Papal Power – at 30,000 Ft.
Beyond Papalism
Authentic Catholicism: The Antidote to Clericalism
It’s Time We Moved Beyond Theological Imperialism
“Uncle Vince” is at it Again
Our Catholic “Stonewall Moment”
Thoughts on Authority and Fidelity
What It Means to be Catholic
The “Underground Church”
Cornerstone Catholic Community

Recommended Off-site Links:
New Leaders for Old Catholic Church
Spirit of Hope Catholic Community
Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Community (ACOC)
Heartland Old Catholic Church
Old Catholic Church of Great Britain

Image: St. Willibrord. The website of the Old Catholic Church of Great Britain notes: “The area of Europe known as the Low Countries was evangelised by St. Willibrord in the Seventh Century firmly establishing the Catholic Faith and Tradition in the Netherlands and other countries in that region. Early on, three principal dioceses were established in the cities of Utrecht , Deventer and Haarlem to administer the affairs of the Church in the territory. Utrecht eventually became the archiepiscopal see with supervision over Deventer and Haarlem . Assenting to a petition made by the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III and Bishop Heribert of Utrecht , Blessed Pope Eugene III, in 1145 A.D. granted the Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht the right to elect successors to the See in times of vacancy. This privilege was confirmed by the fourth Council of the Laterian in 1215. The autonomous character of the Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands was further demonstrated when a second grant by Pope Leo X, Debitum Pastoralis, conceded to Philip of Burgundy, 57th Bishop of Utrecht, that neither he nor his successors, nor any of their clergy or laity, should ever, in the first instance, have his cause evoked to any external tribunal, not even under pretence of any apostolic letters whatever; and that all such proceedings should be, ipso facto, null and void. This papal concession, in 1520, was of the greatest importance in defense of the rights of the Church.”


CDE said...

I wonder why this community does not consider itself Protestant. It seems to share more in common with the community established by Henry VIII than with the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the Old Catholics are not impressive. You can't throw a rock and not hit some jurisdictional variation - communions, diocese, parishes, house churches, you name it. There is little or no unity among these folks. When there's a disagreement, they splinter or split and form a new church.

I am not unmoved by the assertion "semper reformanda," but semper "re-organize" gets to be a poor use of time after a while.

The most current list I've found is here:
Its entertaining reading, but it seems illustrative of human weakness than Jesus prayer "That they may be one."

If this is reform, lets have less of it.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Clayton,

I think you mean the Roman Catholic Church.



Michael J. Bayly said...


I'd be interested to hear your take on theologian Mary Hunt's perspective on unity which can be found here.



Michael J. Bayly said...

Also, Mark, could it be that your perception/understanding of "disunity" is others' experience and acceptance of diversity?

Can't we be one in Christ while also acknowledging and celebrating diversity? That seems to me the thing to strive for.

Also, both Jesus and Paul used metaphors indicating such "unity in diversity" (e.g. "in my Father's house there are many rooms"; the many different parts of the one body etc.)

Finally, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on historian Gary Macy's contention that the "true tradition" of the Church is one of diversity.



kevin57 said...

Congregationalism (in whatever form it takes) and monarchy (in its various gradations) both have their weaknesses and problems.

As a "middle way" I would like to propose this reform of Roman Catholic Church governance selection:

1) The people (through parish representatives or in a synod of the whole), along with the clergy of a diocese, discern three names for bishop (in accord with norms laid out by the Holy See) and propose them to the Holy Father;

2) The Holy See may reject any one or more of the three nominees if they are deemed "heterodox"; otherwise, the three names stand for a vote of the diocese (through synod);

3) No nominee for Ordinary proceeds without garnering a majority (rather than plurality) of the voters. Once achieved, consecration as bishop follows.

This proposal is far too tame for many but a "radical" departure from the current modus operandi of leadership selection in the Church. In actuality, it is how most religious congregations and orders have selected provincials and superior generals (who, by the way, are Ordinaries) since the 12th century. So, at least it catches us up to the Middle Ages!

CDE said...

No, I meant catholic in the sense of "universal". Without papal primacy, there is no guarantor of the universality of the church.

A branch can't sever itself from the tree and still claim to represent the tree.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Michael. A couple thoughts in answer to your questions:

Re/Mary Hunt, I regard any feminist analysis & critique of only "local" temporal interest, bound as it is by time & culture. I am not sure there is sufficient, stable ground for lasting, applicable critique. I wonder, if and when Mary Hunt's generation passes away (and no hurry that...God grant her 100 years), if people won't say "Huh, what was all the fuss about?" Aren't kyriarchy and matriarchy really the same problem?

If we privilege a certain form of diversity as a new "mark" of the church, it changes the form and goal of ecumenism. I think the Consultation on Church Union, once its work was successfully concluded, became something like the "Churches of Christ Uniting" or something like that. It created a limited form of altar & pulpit fellowship among like-thinkers in the U.S. National Council of Churches. There's a lot of emphasis on "living into unity" while glossing over (my perception anyway) real differences in faith, order (nee organization and/or structure), liturgy, sacraments (or ordinances as some call them), views of scripture and interpretation of the same. Practically speaking it didn't really make a difference in the lives of the bloke in the pew.

I think a real focus on unity and diversity can occur in terms of service, what Catholics call the corporal works of mercy. There's very little in the corporal works of mercy that Christians, non-Christians and really any person of good will can disagree about. Flipping it around, its not clear that that think lack of disagreement could serve as a foundation for agreement and unity.

There is a real epistemological problem here. I locate a source of diversity in both the personal and social mediation of knowledge through experience. But that doesn't mean some absolute, firm and invariant Truth doesn't also exist. Knowledge can be socially mediated, but that doesn't mean Truth is socially and/or experientially determined. Too much emphasis on a dialectical or dialogical process of sifting of knowledge in search of Truth can lead to a certain lack of commitment to the "backward step" of embracing Jesus in Faith. The Resurrected Christ exists tangibly in the community of believers, and subsists most certainly in the Roman Catholic Church.

Like all human communities, the human community in the RCC has organization, structure and leadership. No human community can be said to exist without it - geez, even ActUP! has some organizational structure.

Old Catholicism and the Independent Movement is what you get when the emphasis is on a certain conformity in externals like the liturgy, without any underlying agreement on common principals beyond inclusion and local control. Those, like Mary Hunt, who attempt to read Scripture and Tradition through an inclusion/local control lens, end up justifying a desired conclusion instead of deeply questioning themselves. Is Mary Hunt's ecclesia really the end-result of what I'll call the foundational trajectory of Jesus (rather than the word "found" or "founded" - its not like He started the Elks Club or something) and his immediate disciples in the 1st century of the common era? Maybe, maybe not. I'm more of a skeptical "maybe not" frame of mind.

Anonymous said...

Oh, great. A declaration that includes, among many other odd things, a *rejection* of Rome's denunciation of *Jansenism*.

Yep, now there's a community of affirmation for gay folk!

Reminds me, among many possible examples. of erstwhile Catholic feminists who try to rescue Gnosticism for use today.

Showing, yet again, how the failure to think things through leads people to embrace ideas that are even worse than the things they currently feel oppressed by.

Of course, someone will object: but we don't believe those things now. We pick and choose the things we believe from among them.

Then the question is: who is the "community" as "church"? Is it just the like-minded folk who gather now? What happens if other folk join them (either through reproduction or immigration, as it were) who *don't* agree with them?

For example, what would happen at St Stephen's if a considerable number of more conservatively minded people were added to your number? Would their voices be subordinated to those who were there before them? If so, on what grounds? When does such subordination end?

Don't think that couldn't happen. It can and it does. And then all that lovely talk of community and coming to consensus tends to go out the window.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Liam,

Thanks for your comment. There's a lot in it to respond to, but for now I'd simply like to share Rev. Robert Caruso's take on Old Catholicism and Jansenism.

He notes that:

A misconception about the Old Catholic Church is that it is “Jansenist.” The term Jansenism was imposed upon a particular pious movement that was part of the Counter Reformation in the late sixteenth to early seventeenth-century. Jansenism was condemned as heretical because the sect agreed with Augustine of Hippo’s doctrine on double predestination (from all eternity God decided who was and was not saved). Suffice it to state here that the Old Catholic churches do not officially claim to be Jansenist, nor do they adhere to the doctrine of double predestination. Jansenism became a pejorative (slander) term in its day, and any individual and/or group that protested against the papacy was labeled a Jansenist sect.

It would seem that old habits die hard!



Anonymous said...

Actually, Michael, Rev Caruso's response avoids the point (as I did NOT accuse the Old Catholic Church of *embracing* Jansenism so much as rejecting a rejection of it, which is clearly true): Does the Old Catholic Church *reject* Jansenism? What of Jansenism is rejected or tolerated?

Fr. Robert W. Caruso said...

Dear Liam:

Thank you for your question about Jansenism. The Union of Utrecht (the official ecclisiastical body of Old Catholicism) has never rejected nor embraced Jansenism. This statement may seem as though I avoid your question, however, I suggest we dive deeper into what Jansenism actually was.

Jansenism refers to those who adhered to the teachings of Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638), bishop of Ypres, who disagreed with Jesuit theology, especially on the subjects concerning sin and redemption. Tradition has it that Jansen read all of Augustine of Hippo's work, and was an expert on Augustine's theology. Whether this claim is true or not, no one seems to know exactly to date.

Jansen wrote his infamous opus entitled the "Augustinus." The controversy his text stirred was concerning the theological idea on "grace". Generally speaking, the controversy was between the theology of Augustine (through Jansen's work) versus the theology of the Jesuits concerning the doctrine of grace. This specific doctrine was a "hot topic" in the late sixteenth to early seventeenth-centuries because of the dynamic teaching of Martin Luther and his contemporaries concerning grace.

My point here is that the above history in relation to Old Catholicism (or more specifically the Catholic Church of Utrecht, Holland) is quite complex and impossible to fully explicate here without doing great injustice to this epoch in history.

Suffice it to state here that the church of Utrecht protected the rights of Jansenists from the wrath of the papacy (e.g. the Port Royal controversy), but they were not themselves Jansenists. Some within the church of Utrecht held Jansenist beliefs, but even this statement is convoluted because church historians still ponder the question of "What is Jansenism?"

William Doyle in his book "Jansenism: Catholic Resistance to Authority from the Reformation to the French Revolution" tries to answer the above question in stating, " thing we cannot do is to define ‘jansenism;’” furthermore “what they (those individuals and groups labled Jansenist) had in common was not so much content as a tendency. Jansenism meant resistance to living (papal) authority in the Catholic Church."

So, in this regard Jansenism and Old Catholicism have some things in common, however, they are two very distinct and seperate movements that challenged the monarchical authoritative tendencies of the pope in the late sixteenth to early seventeenth-century.

I hope this answers your question and clarifies my general statement posted early concerning Jansenism and Old Catholicism.

Peace, ~Bob

Fr. Robert W. Caruso said...

Dear Clayton:

The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecth are Catholic in their theology, but not Roman Catholic. The theology that permeates the Old Catholic tradition goes back to the patristic era of the early church (first through 10 centuries) when the east and west were still united. Meaning, you will not find little semblance of Medeival scholasticism (which permeates Roman theology all the way through to Vatican I) among Old Catholic theologians of the Union of Utrecht.

You are correct that the Union of Utrecht's ecclesiology is similiar to that of the Anglican Communion, however, this is not a Protestant or Reformed theology.

Protentantism concerns Luther's famous "sola scriptura" (scripture alone) proclamation among other paradigmatic theological ideas. It is a completely different theology from that of Catholic theology. Protestantism has completely different understandings about the sacraments, gospel, and grace, etc. The Reformed tradition, i.e., Calvin, are different and diverse interpretations of Lutheranism (or Protestantism). For example, Luther taught a double predestination theology way before John Calvin taught it. In fact, Calvin was just being a "good Lutheran" in adhering to this teaching in which he called it the "terrible decree" of God in his two volume magnum opus "The Institutes"

I think we use the term "Protestant" far too loosely today. Meaning, theology not of the "Roman Catholic" coining must ipso facto be "Protestant". This does injustice to the Protestant movement and its theologians, as well as those churches that are not Protestant or Roman Catholic (e.g., Eastern Orthodoxy,Old Catholicism and Anglicanism).

Contemporary Old Catholic theologians of the Union of Utrecht as well as Anglican theolgians are re-discovering the dynamic theology (specifically ecclesiology) of the early church of the first 10 centuries.

It is a theology that goes back to the patristic and Cappadocian era -a very different type of theology than that of Roman Catholic Medieval scholasticism through to post-Trent Roman Catholic theology.

Vatican II was a step in the right direction for the Roman church in re-discovering early church theology, but arguably this council and its doctrines have been systematically ignored, and is now threatened by the re-reformation being implemented by the current pope back into the Trentian form of Catholicism. This, in my opinion, is an unfortunate event.

Peace, ~Bob

Fr. Robert W. Caruso said...

Dear Mark Andrews:

I concur with your statement with regard to the so-called Old Catholic ecclesial groups in the U.S. Your description about these groups in America describes the dilemma of "Old Catholicism" quite accurately.

The ecclesial body that canonicaly speaks for and interprets Old Catholic theology and ecclesiology is the Old Catholic churches of the Union of Utrecht.

The problem with Old Catholicism in the U.S. is that it has been transformed into a sponge-like movement, absorbing whatever ideology a certain bishop or clergymember may hold. The term "Old Catholic" is used too loosely in this country by bishops and clergy who may know "snip-its" of Old Catholic history, but very little of its theology (especially its eucharistic theology of the local-universal church).

My research at United Theological Seminary for the last four years has led me to a deeper (and richer) understanding of what it means to be Old Catholic. It has further empowered me to share the fruits of my research with others interested. I am humbled to say that next fall my first book will be published by the Apocryphile Press entitled: "The Old Catholic Church: Understading the Origen, Essence, and Theology of a Church that is Unknown and Misunderstood by Many in North America.

It is my hope that this book will uniquely contribute to "responsibly" informing and inspiring its intended readers to veritably reflect, comprehend, and entertain the richness of this unknown polity called the Old Catholic churches of the Union of Utrecht.

Shalom, ~Bob

Anonymous said...

So, for the purposes of what Rev Caruso is writing, it appears that "Jansenism" only means resistance to living papal authority. But it appears from his answer that there have been Old Catholic who did in fact hold beliefs we might term Jansenist for other reasons. So the responses don't really move things very far at all, though at surface they might appear to.

Which is why I included my illustration of the problem of anachronistic pick-and-choose.

kevin57 said...

Jansenism is no friend of anyone who believes sexuality is integral to God's delight for his people. Besides "double predestination," it taught that we also have to earn, that is, work assiduously for our salvation. It meant a joyless, oppressive living of the gospel. You can keep it!

Anonymous said...

Dear Liam:

I am curious about what you mean when you state, "A declaration that includes, among many other odd things, a *rejection* of Rome's denunciation of *Jansenism*."

If you are referring to the Decl. of the Union of Utrecht, no such rejection of Jansenism exists there. In fact, paragraph four of the Decl. moves to support Jansenist independence by denouncing the papal Bull Unigenitus (among other oppressive encyclicals) -- The Bull Unigenitus was formulated Sept. 8, 1713 to condemn the French (papal labeled "Jansenist") scholar Pashasius Quesnel who wrote the infamous Moral Reflexions of the New Testament (See Claude B. Moss' book "The Old Catholic Movement: Its Origins and History, esp. pp. 62-63, and 65).

Thus the declaration of Utrecht does not denounce Jansenism, but sets right the ancient independence local churches (in this case the local-universal church of France) enjoyed before the rise of papal supremacy occured (or began germenating) during the Medieval age onward.

Peace, ~Bob

Anonymous said...


OK, now we play the old game of "you condemn Jansenism but what you condemn doesn't apply to us" nomenclature feedback loop long familiar to historians of the Jansenist controversy.

My point still stands, apart from that feedback loop.

Anonymous said...

Dear Liam:

I did not follow your last response. I have never condemned Jansenism. My very first statement given some time ago in an interview I had with Michael Bayly clearly states,

Jansenism was condemned as heretical because the sect agreed with Augustine of Hippo's doctrine on double predestination (from all eternity God decided who was and was not saved). Suffice it to state here that the Old Catholic churches do not officially claim to be Jansenist, nor do they adhere to the doctrine of double predestination. Jansenism became a pejorative (slander) term in its day, and any individual and/or group that protested against the papacy was labeled a Jansenist sect.

The problem, as can be seen in our dialogue here, is that the term "Jansenism" means a great many things depending upon who you ask. I digress to Doyle's statement quoted above.

Well seasoned scholars have struggled to clearly define what "Jansenism" truly means because the "Augustinus" does not exist today. Point being, we do not clearly know what Jansen taught or stated from his hand -- we only have the Roman church's pejorative five propositions against it, as well as some educated assumptions, i.e., Jansen, being a good Augustinian, probably did teach the doctrine of double predestination because Augustine of Hippo taught it (this is where Luther, being a good Augustinian monk, derived his double predetination ideas). Further, there definitely was a "Puritan" rigor of discipline centered in the Eucharist for those who followed Jansen's teaching.

Point of clarification for Liam is that some within the church of Utrecht were labeled "Jansenist" by the Jesuits and the Roman Church (whatever this meant in accordance with scholars like Doyle), but the Church of Utrecht never officially claimed the term "Jansenist" as being part of the character and ethos of their understanding of the nature of church.

Further, "Old Catholic" is a nineteenth-century coining by the renowned Roman Catholic theologian Joseph Ignaz von Dollinger at the Vatican I council, and is a term that the church of Utrecht assumed when the Union of Utrecht was formed in 1889.

In other words, we must be careful when using words like Jansenist, Old Catholic, Utrecht, etc., and be vigilant in that we are not (unintentionally) distorting or confusing the accuracy of history.

The church of Utrecht did not consider itself "Old Catholic" until the late nineteenth-century.
It has a different history than that of the Union of Utrecht, however, I assert that what is common to Utrecht, the Union, and the term "Jansenism" itself is ultimately their resistance to papal supremacy.

I caution in drawing conclusions about this topic from just these brief comments made here...the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of church history were very complex and should be thoroughly studied before drawing any sort of determinative conclusion...I am still learning about this epoch in history after four years of intense academic research. I have merely skimmed the surface.

Shalom, ~Bob

Anonymous said...


A clarification: by "you" I meant
"Rome et al." in the mouths of those objecting to the use of "Jansenism"

As you do your history more, you will find that this form of objection was a rhetorical bit of three-card Monty used in the period in question. Lots of people appear still to get trapped in its eddies. (Of course, the Old Catholics are entirely free to be more explicit about which of the propositions condemned in Unigenitus and other magisterial documents rejected by the Old Catholics - regardless of whether they agree about the taxonomy of "Jansenism" - are acceptable or unacceptable and to which extent. And if they avoid answering that kind of question, they are entitled to have that avoidance viewed skeptically.)

Earlier in the thread, I pole vaulted right over the eddies to the questions of picking and choosing and what constitutes a community et cet. I did that precisely because I expected the eddies to become traps for the unwary, having been exposed to the history here in my years of study.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your clarification and input.

It is good to observe such vibrant discussion around some of these issues I have been studying and researching.

Peace, ~Bob

CDE said...

Hi Bob,

I appreciate your distinction between the Protestant churches and other communities of Christian faith. Still, the commonality is the fact of schism... the severing from the successor of St. Peter, which is no small matter when it comes to preserving and building up communion in the Church.

As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out in his recent visit to the United States:

Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called “prophetic actions” that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of “local options”. Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia – communion with the Church in every age – is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23).